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Time circles warily. The tree taunts me. Its slanted age-burnt bark laughs deep into my face; the dark, twisted skin reflecting a gnarled V on the still water beneath. Slowly, ever so slowly, the tire turns; thick muzzled rope clenching the rubber with the fibrous grip of a hunter. Oh, I know the game that is being played... and I cannot resist its lure.

A frog jumps into the water, and as the ripples break the surface tension of the water, I am seduced. Bare feet slapping madly on sloping rock, I sprint for the rocky edge, and with a spine-curving leap blast into the air. The wind gusts slightly, ever so slightly... and even as I hit the tire I know I will miss. Gasping fumbling I scrabble for rope or rubber, wet toes meeting worn tread, eager hands clutching whiskered rope. But the dampness of the rope slips control from my hands and with a gasp I fall onto my back in the icy water.

I surface instantly, laughing with sheer delight, spluttering water droplets and indignation. The water is cold, and I swim for shore quickly to quit its chill embrace: my friends laughing, ripples racing past me, the sky a frame. A girl, all so beautiful in laughter, helps me back onto our rock, and I sit chuckling: the sun on my back, the heated rock scorching my wet trunks. I shake my head at the leaping tire, grinning saying 'got me again, old tree!' Trap sprung, the tire swing dances a merry jig as if mocking my grand fortune. My heart lifts as I watch the arms that hold the rope aloft, and I feel the tree through its skin bark rough wrinkled laughing at our laughter, watching his children grow up.

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